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Major Parties Bringing In Top Guns For 24th District Senate Fight

(via flickr/jimbowen0306)
The Missouri Senate has passed a measure that would limit more state officials to eight years in office. The motion now goes to the state House.

Any doubts about the political stakes for St. Louis County’s open 24th District state Senate seat should be squelched in the next few weeks, as many of the state’s biggest political players – politicians and donors -- are jumping in on behalf of their parties’ favored contenders in this fall's election.

The bipartisan crowd also signals that the district, which takes in much of mid-county from Creve Coeur to Chesterfield, is deemed now to be politically swing turf up for grabs.

Before redistricting in 2011, the 24th District was considered as leaning Democratic although the seat is now held by Republican John Lamping, who has opted against running for re-election.

State Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, has no primary opposition for her party’s nomination. Even so, she is unveiling on Tuesday a long bipartisan list of prominent backers for her bid for the seat.

One of the three Republican contenders, John R. Ashcroft (son of the former governor, senator and U.S. attorney general, John C. Ashcroft ), is about to roll out an equally powerful team of supporters. They are expected to include wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield, the state’s top donor.

Schupp’s endorsement list includes Dr. William Danforth, the former chancellor of Washington University and brother of retired Sen. John Danforth, a Republican. Her list also includes St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch and a bipartisan crowd of several of the district’s current and former mayors, including: Creve Coeur Mayor Barry Glantz, former Creve Coeur Mayor Harold Dielmann, Overland Mayor Michael Schneider, and Town and Country Alderman Linda Rallo, who oversaw Republican Cole McNary’s unsuccessful 2012 statewide bid for treasurer.

Jill Schupp
Credit Schupp's campaign site
Jill Schupp

Schupp also lists the public support of influential Democrats, such as veteran activist Joyce Aboussie, who generally prefers to stay behind the scenes; environmentalist Kay Drey; and A.J. Bockelman, executive director of PROMO, the state’s biggest LGBT group.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, also is slated to headline a fundraising event for Schupp later this month. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat (and former Republican) who is running for governor in 2016, keynoted an event for Schupp last summer.

As of the last campaign-finance reports, filed in April, Schupp had accumulated $316,326 in the bank -- more than three times that of her nearest GOP competitor.

Top Republicans line up behind Ashcroft

Those campaign reports showed that Republican Jack Spooner had amassed $104,574 in the bank, far more than his two Republican  rivals -- Robb Hicks and Ashcroft.  Even so, it appears that Ashcroft may have the momentum.

Credit Courtesy of Jay Ashcroft
Jay Ashcroft files for his state Senate race.

Most of the state’s top Republicans, led by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.,  will be in St. Louis in a couple weeks on behalf of Ashcroft, who is seeking his first political office.

A campaign spokesman said that Blunt and U.S. Reps. Ann Wagner,R-Ballwin; Jason Smith, R-Salem; and Billy Long, R-Springfield, will headline an event for Ashcroft in an effort to generate enthusiasm and campaign dollars.

Ashcroft's event is expected to be in the Clayton office of  Pelopidas LLC, a consulting firm whose clients include Sinquefield.

Some close to the Ashcroft campaign said that Sinquefield is expected to make a major donation soon to underscore GOP efforts to match Schupp's money-raising, which has been underway for more than a year.

Former U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo. and a former governor, is a co-chair of Ashcroft's campaign. So is Bucky Bush, brother of former President George H. Bush and uncle of former President George W. Bush. Another key backer is state Auditor Tom Schweich.

Such high-level support for Ashcroft appears aimed, in part, at sending a signal to his two Republican rivals that they won’t be getting any major GOP support or money in the future.

Also seeking the 24th District seat is Libertarian Jim Higgins.

This month's events, for both Ashcroft and Schupp, are expected to generate a lot more money.  The June fundraising frenzy reflects the fact that the end of this month will mark the end of the most important money-raising period before the Aug. 5 primaries.  The next campaign-finance reports are due July 15.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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